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Delayed response to Ngāi Tahu water collaboration offer

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Local Democracy Reporter

08 May 2024, 5:58 AM

Delayed response to Ngāi Tahu water collaboration offerNgāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere Justin Tipa says the iwi has aspirations for equitable, safe and sustainable water services for all communities.

A southern council has deferred its response to an offer of support from Ngāi Tahu, saying it needs more information.


The offer — made to Invercargill City Council on March 28 — relates to collaboration for water services on the back of the Government’s Local Water Done Well approach.


It followed Ngāi Tahu speaking at a Local Government New Zealand conference in March, where an offer was made to South Island councils to work together with the iwi.



But the March letter took until April 30 to reach the council table, and ultimately got delayed from being discussed.


Mayor Nobby Clark said he emailed councillors the day before to inform them the report would be pushed back to a later date.


“I felt a bit pressured, getting this just before the long weekend and then needing to make some decisions,” Clark told those gathered.



Discussions would be had with the chief executive about whether to discuss the item at an extraordinary meeting on May 14, or at the next meeting on May 28.


Everybody would need to be in attendance because three waters was “a contentious issue”, he said.


In response to questions from Local Democracy Reporting, Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere Justin Tipa explained the offer was made to address the challenge of ensuring safe, affordable and sustainable water services.



“Ngāi Tahu aspirations for water services are simply for equitable, safe, sustainable water services for all the communities in Te Waipounamu,” Tipa said.


“Because of the existing constructive relationships that Ngāi Tahu has with councils throughout its takiwā, our extensive research into water catchments, as well as experience in large projects, we believe we can assist with coordinating collective efforts between councils, particularly for councils with smaller ratepayer bases.”


The offer was to help with logistics and facilitate discussion, not support any particular model, Tipa said.



According to the report prepared by council chief executive Michael Day, Ngāi Tahu were offering to provide administrative, technical and political support to a “coalition of willing councils”.


Key benefits to the council included enhancing its working relationship with the iwi, gaining cultural perspective and knowledge, and raising the profile of key projects including two wastewater plants and a water treatment plant.


Downsides were limited to staff time and an uncertain value of outcomes.



The previous government's Affordable Water Reforms — earlier called Three Waters — would have created new water entities responsible for water assets.


Those reforms were repealed in February to make way for Local Water Done Well.


An advisory board will work on the replacement legislation, which would allow neighbouring councils to voluntarily band together to form council-controlled organisations (CCOs).


LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

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